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Barrel Water Collector 

Make] Projects 

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build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

Barrel Water Collector 

Written By: Chris and Michri Barnes 


Chisel (1) 

Drill (1) 

Drill bit (1) 

Hacksaw (1) 

or PVC saw; a PVC saw cuts straighten 

Hole saw (1) 

Mallet (1) 
or hammer 

Staple gun (1) 
or small tacks 

Straightedge (1) 

Utility knifed) 


Barrel (1) 

We got ours for $20 from a local winery, 
but you can also use a whiskey or pickle 
barrel. Or check garden supply, home 
improvement, or grocery stores. 

• Hand pump (1) 

aka pitcher pump. $40 

Bun g(1) 

or expansion plug; from the winery (or 

other barrel source) 

PVC piped) 

Its diameter must fit the pitcher pump; 

ours was VA". 

PVC foot valve (1) 
to fit pipe 

PVC adapters (1) 
to fit pipe 

Male pipe thread (MPT) (1) 
to slip 

Female pipe thread (FPT) (1) 

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Barrel Water Collector 

Teflon plumbing tape (1) 
and teflon pipe thread sealer paste. You 
can use just one or the other.but my 
professional plumber friend uses both. 

• PVC primer (1) 

PVC cement (1) 

such as Christy's Red Hot Blue 

• Glued) 

or Gorilla PVC 

• Wire screen (1) 

Check the scrap bin at your hardware 

• Screws (1) 

to attach the pump to the barrel 

• Insulating foam (1) 


Many people let the rainwater that falls on their roof run off, then they use drinking water 
piped in from afar for washing floors and watering plants. Here's a handy, mosquito-proof 
rain barrel we put together that stores 55 gallons of recycled water and adds a handsome 
accent to our yard. It's especially valuable during droughts, and if you're in a rural area with 
wells and electric pumps, it also means being able to flush the toilet when the power goes 

Our barrel sits under an eave of our house, where even on foggy days it collects water that 
trickles down. You can also put it under a downspout, or anyplace else outside where it will 
capture water. 

And if you're really ambitious, you could have a series of barrels and move the pump from 
one to the next, or even interconnect them. In some places, though, it may be illegal to 
capture rainwater, so check your local and state laws. 

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Barrel Water Collector 

Step 1 — Make holes in the barrel lid. 

• Lay out the following holes on the barrel's cover and drill them with the hole saw. You need 
one hole near the edge for your pump's down tube, and two more for collected water to 
drain through. 

• Use a strong drill, and draw the hole saw out to clear away sawdust every once in a while. 

• It also helps if you remove some wood from the hole by chiseling across the grain at the 

• When you smell wine, you're almost there. One of our plugs fell in, but that's no disaster; it 
just means there's some wine barrel in our wine barrel. 

• Cover the drain holes with screen to keep out mosquitoes and debris. I cut two 4" squares 
with a straightedge and utility knife, then folded the edges in and stapled them down. 

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Barrel Water Collector 

Step 2 — Install the pump. 

• Our hand pump came with a check valve, but its quality was questionable, so we installed 
a foot valve to keep the pump primed. (It sucks when all you want is a bucket of water, 
and you need a bucket of water to get it.) The valve was multi-size, so we first had to cut a 
section off the end so it would fit our 1 V4" pipe. 

• First, screw the pipe adapters onto the hand pump and the foot valve. Wind teflon tape 3-5 
times around the threads of both adapters, in the direction you'll be screwing. Apply TFE 
paste on top of the tape. Then screw the foot valve into the FPT-to-slip adapter, and screw 
the MPT-to-slip adapter onto the pump. Screw both as tight as you can with your hands. 

• If you find that you lose the prime on your pump, check and tighten these connections, but 
be careful; over-tightening PVC fittings can cause cracks. 

• In a well-ventilated area, liberally apply PVC primer and then PVC glue to both the PVC 
pipe and the slip fitting on the foot valve. Attach the two by giving the pipe a slow half twist 
and a quarter twist back as you push it in. 

• Set the pump down and measure how high its slip fitting hangs. Set the 3' pipe into its hole 
in the top of the barrel, mark the barrel's height, and add the slip fitting distance. Cut the 
pipe to that length, and deburr the edges with a knife. Glue the pipe into the pump's slip 

• Set the pump in place and securely screw it down. 

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Barrel Water Collector 

Step 3 — Seal and vent. 

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Barrel Water Collector 

• Seal the bunghole on the barrel's 
side. Tap a wooden bung in with a 
mallet, or push an expansion plug 
in as far as you can, and tighten 
the wing nut. If the bung leaks at 
first, it will probably swell up and 

• Spray insulating foam to fill the gap 
around the down tube. You may 
want to wait until you've used the 
barrel for a couple of weeks and 
know that everything is working 
properly. Don't touch the foam 
while it's still wet; it makes a mess. 
After it dries, cut off the excess 
with a knife. 

• TIP: Once you've started 
using the can of foam, you 
have to use it all, so if you have 
any other holes to fill, like around 
your doorjamb, do it now. Or you 
can make a giant fake dog doo, a 
funny hat, or a combination of the 

• Finally, drill 8 or more 1" vent holes 
around the barrel, about 3" down 
from the top. These let air escape 
from the barrel during a heavy 
downpour, and prevent standing 
water on top when the barrel's full. 

• That's it! Once we finished, we 
couldn't wait for the rain to test the 
pump, so we put some water in the 
barrel with the garden hose. 

• We've been using water from the 

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Barrel Water Collector 

barrel ever since for our plants, 
pets, chickens, and ducks. It's also 
been nice to have around for 
flushing toilets when the pipes 

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 18 , page 130. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -01 04:04:20 AM. 

© Make Projects 

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